After saying former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart was “bent out of shape” during his emotional testimony to Congress earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to meet with 9/11 first responders who are aligned with Stewart on extending the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
First reported by the New York Post on Sunday, McConnell’s team agreed to meet with 9/11 first responders on Tuesday.
The first responders who have advocated for the bill over the past 18 years are relieved.
“Listen, we come in peace,” Ground Zero recovery worker John Feal told the Post. “But we also — we’re prepared for anything, whether it’s a street fight or Mitch McConnell saying yes.”
On June 11, Stewart spoke to an audience of five members of Congress and mostly empty seats and called them out for not showing up to the hearing to face the dozens of 9/11 first responders who traveled to Washington, D.C.
“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” Stewart said at the committee meeting. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.”
The former “Daily Show” host didn’t name names in his testimony but appeared on Fox News shortly after and directly called out McConnell.
“I want to make it clear that this has never been dealt with compassionately by Senator McConnell,” he said in an interview last Sunday. “He has always held out until the very last minute, and only then under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even dared to move on it.”
McConnell didn’t originally take Stewart’s complaints seriously.
“Many things in Congress happen at the last minute,” McConnell said on “Fox & Friends” the next day. “We’ve never failed to address this issue. And we will address it again. I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape.”
While Congress has always refunded the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Stewart is advocating for a break in the cycle and to fund the bill until 2090, assuring that victims won’t have to worry about bureaucratic gridlock getting in the way of covering their health care.